Great crested newts could scupper plans for 249 new homes in Harrowden

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The site is an 'amber impact zone' meaning it could be home to great crested newts

Plans for up to 249 new homes in Harrowden are in the pipeline and an application for a ‘screening opinion’ has been submitted to Bedford Borough Council.

Before submitting a planning application, developers can apply for a screening opinion to see if their planned development is to be subject to an environmental impact assessment.

The development at the former Driving Standards Agency site in Harrowden falls within the amber impact risk zone for great crested newts.

Amber impact zones have a suitable habitat and a high likelihood of great crested newt presence.

Great crested newts and their habitats are fully protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (as amended).

Newts spend most of the year feeding on invertebrates in woodland, hedgerows, marshes and grassland. They hibernate underground among tree roots and in old walls.

They breed in ponds during the spring, and there are six ponds within 500m of the proposed development, as well as one onsite.

There are options available for the applicants to move forward with their application.

They can show that ponds within 500m are not suitable for great crested newts, or they can carry out a survey to determine presence/likely absence.

If newts are in the area, then the developers must present appropriate mitigation and compensatory measures.

More information on the screening option can be found on the council’s planning portal, reference 22/01258/EIASCR.

The planning portal states: “Comments may not be submitted at this time.

“This type of application is either determined and there is no requirement to Consult according to Planning Legislation or we were consulted by another Determining Planning Authority or is a request for information or notification only.”

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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